Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland still happiest place in UK says ONS survey

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Northern Ireland remains the happiest part of the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

The five happiest places in its wellbeing survey were Antrim, Fermanagh, Omagh and Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Babergh, Suffolk.

The least happy areas were Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, Dartford in Kent, Torridge in Devon, Maldon in Essex, and South Ribble in Lancashire.

Londoners reported lower than average ratings for personal wellbeing.

'Conundrum'

However, the ONS survey of wellbeing suggested that, overall, people were more satisfied with their lives than at any time since 2011 when ONS began collecting this data.

Researchers said that while it was to early to speculate on trends over time, "one possible reason for the small scale improvements in personal well-being may be the more positive economic outlook in the UK".

In 2013/14, people in Northern Ireland once again gave higher ratings for each aspect of their personal wellbeing on average than those in any other UK country.

Report co-author Dawn Snape said people in Northern Ireland were a "conundrum", having scored highly in all aspects of the wellbeing index despite having a high unemployment rate.

"It may be down to social connectivity, a great sense of community, maybe it is down to how life is going there now compared with 15 years ago," she said.

In its study of anxiety levels, Antrim and Omagh were also among the five least anxious places along with Richmondshire in Yorkshire and the West Midlands areas of Wolverhampton and Warwick.

The London borough of Hackney reported the highest levels of anxiety, followed by Cookstown in County Tyrone, Barking and Dagenham in London, Harborough in the East Midlands and Lambeth in London.

Four questions were asked by researchers in the survey of 165,000 people:

  1. Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  2. Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  3. Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  4. Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?

People were asked to give their answers on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is 'not at all' and 10 is 'completely'.

Northern Ireland was the only country where average ratings for a sense that what one does in life is worthwhile (8.0), happiness (7.7) and anxiety (2.8) were significantly different to the UK averages, with people in England, Scotland and Wales reporting similar figures.

The personal wellbeing statistics are used to inform government decision-making, complementing traditional measures of progress and quality of life such as unemployment and household income.

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